West Indies – a dynamic assortment of islands

The Caribbean, located south-east of the Gulf of Mexico and North America, east of Central America and to the north of South America, takes its name from the Carib, an indigenous tribe of the region. Situated on the Caribbean Plate, the region actually comprises of more than 7,000 islands, most are unpopulated and these islands are collectively called the West Indies.

Many of the residents are descendants from the West African slave ships, brought in to work on sugar plantations and as slavery ended, they, unsurprisingly, decided to remain in these paradise- like conditions. The culture, religions and languages of each country and dependency are unique, due to the different ruling influences during the slavery period.For example, the islands of: Haiti, Martinique and Guadeloupe have a very rich French heritage; while Cuba and Puerto Rico are strongly Spanish based.

These influences extend to the food with African, Spanish, Chinese, and East Indian flavours battling amongst themselves. Spices, peppers and many different types of herbs and seasonings are heavily used to prepare most meals. Popular dishes are jerk chicken, fried flying fish, seafood, including35 species of lobster prepared in many different ways and stewed peas and beans—such as like pigeon peas. Roti, which is East Indian based, contains curries and spices. Callaloo Soup, made of dasheen leaves—a relative of taro—spinach, okra and sometimes crabs, was recently voted the winner for Dominica’s national dish due to the near extinction of “mountain chicken,” (which is a local species of frog with unusually large and delicious legs)!

Thanks to the filming hereof the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, The Thomas Crown Affair and Speed 2 to name but a few and not forgetting 007’s adventures in Jamaica as Dr. No, coupled with music ranging from Billy Ocean’s ‘Caribbean Queen’ to 10 cc’s Dreadlock Holiday, the region now enjoys a celebrity vibe. In fact, the pontoon off Sandy Lane’s beach in Barbados is just dripping with celebrities taking selfies every winter season.

Some of the more popular local styles of music are reggae, soca, calypso, salsa, rhumba, chutney and pan music, culminating in music festivals throughout the islands that attracts international stars.

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The Caribbean entices not only vacationers but also the savvy business investor andthe adventure seeker exploring both luxury resorts plus the eternal quest to discover the undiscovered, for example, Terre-De-Haut, Îles Des Saintes, Carriacou, Grenada and Anegada, in the British Virgin Islands, to name but a few.

Wherever your travels take you, immerse yourself in the Caribbean vibe, always say “Good Day” and above all rememberit’s all about the journey and a ‘likkle’ bit of patience and a great sense of humour en route won’t go amiss.

 

- FIONA SAWERS 
Fiona is a Partner at Move to Dominica, a relocation specialist, Editor of 100+ Things To Do in Dominica and a volunteer at St Luke’s Primary School, Pointe Michel.